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    Wildcats Overpower No. 20 Purdue, 3-2

    Oct. 12, 2013

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    Northwestern Northwestern 3, No. 20 Purdue 2
    Holloway Gymnasium • West Lafayette, Ind. • Attendance: 2,593

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    WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Northwestern fought its way to a second-straight five-set match Saturday night and for the second time, the Wildcats pulled out a thrilling victory, this time against No. 20 Purdue. The 'Cats stunned the Boilermakers, 3-2 (13-25, 25-23, 29-27, 21-25, 21-19), in front of a boisterous crowd.

    The victory was NU's first of the season against a ranked opponent and the fourth time the Wildcats outlasted their opponent for a five-set win in 2013.

    "The night certainly didn't start the way we would have liked in the first set, but we pushed back throughout the match and found a way to take the best shot from an extremely talented Purdue team in their gym and come out on top," said Northwestern head coach Keylor Chan. "So many people on this team stepped up in key moments and we really trusted one another to make the right decisions at critical times. We'll certainly build on these great results from this weekend and keep working to improve even more as we return home this week."

    In the rough start Chan alluded to, Northwestern fell victim to an early five-point run that gave Purdue a quick 8-3 lead and prompted the bench boss to use a timeout. Katie Dutchman stopped the surge out of the break, though, with her second kill of the match. The Boilermakers answered with a 6-3 run that helped push their lead to seven points. Shortly after another stoppage, Dutchman scored again to get the 'Cats within six, but that's as close as they'd come in the first set as Purdue put NU in a 13-point hole at 22-9 before finishing off the visitors by a score of 25-13.

    Dutchman set the tone for a career night as she carried the offensive load for Northwestern with four total kills in the first frame. The redshirt junior hit a team-best .400 in the opening set Saturday with no errors on 10 strong swings.

    The Wildcats slowed things down tremendously in the second set and played with much more consistency from the onset. NU took a two-point advantage, 15-13, at the media timeout that was brought on by yet another kill from Dutchman. From that point on the 'Cats maintained a lead of between one and three points until closing out Purdue, 25-23, to even the match at a set apiece as the teams headed to the locker rooms for intermission.

    Purdue took a three-point lead, 15-12, as a media timeout was called midway through the third set. The Wildcats used the stoppage to regroup and mount a 7-3 charge to take a 19-18 lead on an attacking error on the Boilermakers, but this frame was far from finished.

    Following a kill from NU's spark off the bench, Yewande Akanbi, the visitors had their first shot at set point. Purdue fired back and the two squads battle back and forth until Dutchman, who was serving for the first time all season because the 'Cats had used their allotted 15 substitutions, fired off an ace to give Northwestern a thrilling 29-27 victory, and with it, a 2-1 lead in the match.

    The Boilermakers took a quick 6-1 lead to start the fourth game, but a couple of aces from Savannah Paffen pulled NU within a point and a kill by from Maddie Slater knotted the score at eight points apiece. Each time that the Wildcats got close, however, the Boilermakers surged back in front en route to an eventual 25-21 triumph to set up the decisive fifth set.

    This time around, it was the Wildcats who shot out of the gate to the tune of a 6-2 lead following a thunderous kill from Stephanie Holthus. Purdue head coach Dave Shondell called a timeout, but NU pressed on and maintained an 8-5 lead following a kill from Paffen as the teams switched sides in the race to 15 points.

    In an incredible finish, this Big Ten battle would require more than 15 points to decide. Purdue finally picked up its first lead of the fifth set at 14-13, but back-to-back kills by Holthus put the 'Cats quickly back in front. The two teams repeatedly sided each other out until Purdue made consecutive attacking errors with score tied at 19-19 to help the Wildcats escape with a 21-19 win to seal the match.

    With the help of true freshman setter Caleigh Ryan, Chicago's Big Ten Team utilized a very balanced offensive attack for the second night in a row. Dutchman hammered down a career-high 23 kills, a number that was matched by her fellow team captain, Holthus. Akanbi added a season-high 15 kills in the nationally-televsed match and Paffen tallied double digits with 10. Ryan handed out a career-best 67 helpers as she continues to rank amongst the NCAA's leaders in that category.

    Time and again the Wildcats back row was tested and each time the 'Cats answered the call. Libero Caroline Niedospial led the group with 21 digs, while Holthus chipped in with 16 and Kayla Morin netted 13. Akanbi tallied a career-high six digs in the victory for NU.

    The Wildcats return home to Welsh-Ryan Arena for a rare midweek match against No. 14 Ohio State on Wednesday, Oct. 16 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are still available by calling 888-GO -PURPLE (467-8775). The contest will be televised live on the Big Ten Network with Mike Wolf handling the play-by-play and Liz Tortorello-Nelson providing color commentary.

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